Friday, September 06, 2013

J. F. Powers makes the effort

I'm a bit pressed for time today, so I'll just share a passage I like from Suitable Accommodations the new collection of J. F. Powers's letters, which I'm enjoying very much. This one closes a letter of June 11, 1956, to Father Harvey Egan, a friend and literary patron:
I took a bath tonight and put on a clean shirt and drove own to the Press Bar for a glass of beer. It was formal like that, and something I've never tried before. Bless me, Father, I was trying to give St Cloud a chance. I was in the mood, Father, and I was prepared to take a certain amount of pleasure in it. The choice was Cold Spring or Pfeiffer's (Schmidt's), because I wanted no bottle beer in my mood. I wanted it from the keg, or ex cathedra, if you understand my meaning here. Well, I drank the bitter draughts and departed after one glass, returned home, and that, I'm afraid, was, and is, it. The Press Bar was dark pink inside, and I was alone at the bar.

It's such a compact assemblage of Powers's good traits as a writer: wry humor, self-deprecation, an ability to turn a phrase--and, especially, to turn the phrases of the Church to new, amusing ends--and a satisfactory melancholy suitable to a fallen world.

No comments:

Post a Comment